Car and Driver got 12, but they had the Tahoe for at least a week. I drove it for twenty-five minutes AND I had to endure a salesman named Vito He Wishes It Was His Real Name Corleone telling me that veal piccata is God s gift to the casual diner. Even so, I managed to reduce the new Chevrolet Tahoe s nominal fuel economy to 11 miles per gallon. It wasn t hard; I just leaned on the monster s go pedal here and there, and floored it everywhere else. OK, I was not-so-silently competing with C & D for gas hog infamy, but if you think soccer Moms and NASCAR Dads don t cane their SUV s, you have never driven in now that would be telling.
[Fair disclosure: due to publication of material concerning General Motors and federal bankruptcy court, a press fleet Tahoe was withheld from my examination. Your intrepid reviewer was forced to put the first of GM s buy-or-we ll-die SUV s through its paces on a faux consumer basis. While a week behind the wheel would have better informed my impressions, at least I didn t have to worry about the potential link between incendiary prose and incendiary devices.]
Now for the good news: politically incorrect lead foots helming Chevrolet s gargantuan gas gargler will look stylish at the pumps. By re-balancing the Tahoe s proportions and honing the tiniest details — from two-tone side mirrors to elegant hood creases to chunky refrigerator-style door pulls — the truck s designers have sculpted a sleek, sophisticated shape from the old model s blocky, asymmetrical mediocrity. Chevy s ch-ch-ch-changes have transformed the Tahoe from proletarian workhorse into Armani-clad SUV. It s tailored, refined, classic and chic. We haven t seen a Chevy this sophisticated since, um, ever.
Inside, the Tahoe is an excellent example of what happens when good taste meets bad truck. The cabin s controls are now arranged and deployed with Zen-like restraint and laser-like focus. The colors and shapes harmonize perfectly. The ergonomics would shame a BMW 7-Series (e.g., the little light inside each button that indicates switch activation). Unfortunately, it s strictly museum quality stuff: look but don t touch. The Tahoe s pebbled plastics are as brittle as a cockroach carcass, and the leather seats feel flatter than a boot-squashed example of same. And then there s the packaging
Or lack thereof. Chevy s lumbering leviathan can t swallow more than five people without threatening the extra passengers with claustrophobia and deep vein thrombosis — and dispossessing the lot of them. While Explorers enjoy people-pleasing electrically powered fold-flat third row chairs, Tahoes must wrassle with Munchkin-maiming stow-in-your-garage-and-go-straight-to-the-chiropractor rear boat anchors — I mean, seats. Which returns us to the nub of the matter: why would anyone other than a boat-towing, mud-plugging outdoorsperson drive a cramped bucolic gasaholic when they could helm something with a lot better interior efficiency and twice the mileage?
They wouldn t. They won t. And increasingly, they don t. Talk about irony. Just as SUV s finally become civilized — did I mention that the new Tahoe rides, handles, stops and goes just like a large luxury car? — drivers abandon the genre for cars. The new Tahoe is a surprisingly sexy, capable and refined machine, a genuine credit to its creators, but its prodigious thirst is its undoing. Is that such a terrible thing for me to say? I am really such a bad person for saying it? Or can I have that Solstice now? [by Robert Farago]